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Superintendent's Update - October 28, 2022

Superintendent's Update - October 28, 2022

From the Office of the Superintendent:


The Board of Education agenda calendar can be found HERE


One of the priority goals for 2022-23 is Healthy Attendance. Chronic absenteeism is identified as the top factor in determining if a student earns a failing grade at the secondary level. Statistically, it is the biggest predictor for grades, beating every other factor handily.   

Families are still encouraged to keep their kids home if they are ill. It is equally important to minimize absences when students are healthy. Our data report will be posted next Friday and will be eye-opening for many. We appreciate the partnership with families to prioritize healthy attendance. 


We are continuing efforts to bolster our dual enrollment partnerships with Foothill College and other colleges and universities. Earning college credit for classes taken at a PAUSD school can be advantageous for many reasons. Colleges and universities have their own rules on how they handle transfer units. This is also true for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Some schools accept all AP passing scores for credit, some accept some but require a 4 or better, and others accept none. This is all to say, there are no broad-brush answers that are perfect. Overall, dual enrollment courses are a great opportunity for students. We will be communicating more about classes in the future.  


Our ad hoc committee work is posted routinely on the District website and will also appear on the Board of Education agenda under Information. You can follow the progress of each committee HERE.   


PAUSD provides a tool to the entire community to connect people with health care providers, including mental health experts in the community. It is free to residents and is used widely.  Feel free to explore this resource HERE.   


We are still looking for more people to celebrate as #Builders. I am seeing yellow helmets all over the District as people are recognized for their efforts to support and invest in others.  You can see a snapshot of these recognitions HERE.  


Ad hoc committees continue to meet regularly and tackle complex charges through calibrated process and diverse viewpoints. The Secondary Bell Schedule, Consent Education, and Choice Program committees held their meetings this week. The District continues to provide opportunities for committee leads to connect, to calibrate on process, and reflect together. Meeting notes can be found using this LINK. 


Students, staff, or professionals conducting human subject research or data collection through human interactions (staff and/or students), requires PAUSD Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval (Board Policy 6162.8).  

The committee meets to evaluate outside agencies, staff, and student proposals for any risk of psychological, physical, legal, social, institutional, economic harm, or unethical practices. The committee consists of a panel of professionals with experience to provide appropriate scientific and ethical review. This week, twelve committee members reviewed forty-two proposals. Thanks to all the members who serve on the committee.  


Paly Theatre presents “Radium Girls”, by D.W. Gregory. Recruited to paint glow-in-the-dark faces on watches for soldiers during World War I, hundreds of young women became mysteriously ill with what we now know as radium poisoning. This hard-hitting docudrama details the women’s experience as they attempt to get their day in court with their former employers and asks tough questions about progress, responsibility, and the difficulty of speaking truth to power. Radium Girls will be presented for five performances at Palo Alto High’s Performing Arts Center, November 4, 5, 6, 12 and 13. Radium Girls is recommended for ages 12 and up.  

For tickets, go to



Elementary Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) are experienced teachers who offer support in the following areas for teachers and principals:

  • Curriculum implementation 
  • Lesson planning  
  • Individual and small group instruction  
  • Classroom management  
  • Data analysis  
  • Differentiating Instruction 
  • Model lessons and co-teaching  
  • Mentor teachers new to Palo Alto and the profession 
  • Provide professional development 
  • Assessments-formative and summative 
  • Focus areas of The Promise 

The TOSAs use the following strategies in their coaching: 

  • Thought partnering 
  • Co-planning 
  • Co-teaching 
  • Utilizing the Coaching Cycle 

There are four full-time elementary TOSAs who are liaisons to three-four schools each, including the Ronald McDonald House, Hospital School and Greendell School. There are also two 20% District TOSAs who also serve as an 80% Administrative TOSA at Escondido and Ohlone Elementary. 

TOSAs send weekly newsletters to all teachers with important information about curriculum, staff development opportunities and links to useful resources. TOSAs support all districtwide staff development trainings, work with vendors to organize and provide trainings, support all curriculum adoption processes and procedures, following all Board policies and administrative regulations. They also facilitate the distribution of all curriculum materials and work diligently to ensure that all teachers have the curriculum materials they need to teach. 

With a shortage of substitutes, TOSAs are frequently asked to substitute teach on high impacted days. They are knowledgeable, flexible and a great resource for our district. 


Middle schools are utilizing the previous District TOSA position at the school site to coordinate intervention supports across all grade levels in literacy and math. This includes targeted reading intervention and support in grades 6-8, a writing workshop in grade 8, and team-taught sections of Math 6, Math 7, and Algebra. Similarly, additional support is being provided in Social Studies and English classes with an emphasis on reading.  

Our high schools aligned the TOSAs to the schoolwide goals. For example, integrating SEL into the classrooms will help and coach teachers to support struggling students in the core subjects of English, math, science, and social science along with reading through the Professional Learning Community and Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) processes, create a robust tutoring center, to support students who are unable to afford their own tutors.   

The site TOSAs play a major part during the professional development days and staff meetings along with departmental meetings as they support adult learning.